The Most Important Doctrine of the New Testament (If Not the Whole Bible)

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March 18, 2022

1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

CONSIDER THIS

From suffering and atonement theory to the Son of God’s descent into hell, to his resurrection and ascension into heaven these few verses explode with a veritable fireworks show of biblical theology. There’s the flood, Noah’s Ark, baptism, angels, authorities and powers—there is so much going on in today’s text. Let me begin by pointing out how content I have been over the years to read right past it all, think I understand it somehow, and move on. How have I been such a poor reader of Scripture?

It’s because for most of my life I have read the Bible from what I call an extraction approach. I’m just looking for something relevant to pull out and apply to my personal life. I have been on a journey now in learning to read from what I a call an immersion approach. This is one of the big learnings coming out of our How to Read the Bible Better course we offered back in January. If you’d like to be on the “let me know when this is being offered again” list let me know here

To today’s text—where do we even begin. We could camp out here for the next month at least and still not plumb the depths of it. Let’s begin at the end. 

It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Do you know the most important doctrine in the New Testament (if not the whole Bible)? Get ready to be surprised. Some will say, “The Cross.” Others will say, “No, it’s the Resurrection.” Would it surprise you if I said neither of those are it? Now, put down your rocks. Don’t stone me just yet. Brace yourselves for this:

The most important doctrine in the New Testament (if not the whole Bible) is the Ascension of Jesus Messiah. Now, don’t hear me dissing the Cross and Resurrection. He had to die to make atonement for sin. He had to descend to hell to preach the Gospel to the dead and set the captives free. He had to rise from the dead to defeat death. But all of this happened for an even larger purpose. All of this was for the sake of his Ascension and glorification at the right hand of God.

Jesus Messiah sits enthroned in the heavens (a real place) at the right hand of the Father in a physical albeit glorified body made of human flesh where he reigns and rules as the Lord of heaven and earth, as commander in chief of the angel armies, as the head of the Church, the first fruits of the resurrection, the firstborn from among the dead, the sovereign King of all that is, was, and ever shall be—world without end, Amen. 

If you want to know why the church of our lifetime is so deep in slumber, it’s because hardly anyone has a clue about the most significant fact and important doctrine of the whole Bible: The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’ll make the case stronger tomorrow. 

Now, before we close, I’m going to repeat what may be the longest sentence I have ever written because I want you to read it again—out loud—and with feeling this time. I want you to savor it with delight and joy. I want you to feel the weight of it, because it carries the weight of sheer glory. Maybe even rise to your feet and lift your hands heavenward. 

Jesus Messiah sits enthroned in the heavens (a real place) at the right hand of the Father in a physical albeit glorified body made of human flesh where he reigns and rules as the Lord of heaven and earth, as commander in chief of the angel armies, as the head of the Church, the first fruits of the resurrection, the firstborn from among the dead, the sovereign King of all that is, was, and ever shall be—world without end, Amen. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are risen and exalted as the Ascended God of Heaven and Earth. Awaken me not only to the fullness of who you are but where you are and what you are doing right here and right now. I confess, somehow I have missed this reality in my life and faith. Maybe I have assumed it without attention. I know there is something here of extraordinary significance, hiding in plain view and yet hidden from sight. Holy Spirit, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see him. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Are you tracking with me? Do you think I’m all wet? Come on! Let’s dig in here. This is massive, friends. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

P.S.  345/365

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

8 COMMENTS

  1. “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to ME. Therefore go and make DISCIPLES of ALL nations, baptizing them in name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to OBEY EVERYTHING I have commanded you. And surely I AM with you always, to the very end of the age.” We worship and serve the great I Am.

  2. Paul warns against following or believing in “another Jesus.” It’s easy to follow a Jesus who is less than the Jesus who is seated and enthroned at the right hand of the Father and yet who is actually present and actively working whenever two or three gather in His name. What are some examples of “another Jesus?” Here are a few: an institutional Jesus confined to a church service or denomination, a Jesus stuck in history, a powerless Jesus, a patriotic Jesus nationalized to a particular country, a prosperity Jesus, a motivational Jesus, a validating Jesus who we use to justify our behaviors, a condemning Jesus who we use to condemn others, a self-pleasing Jesus, a theologically distorted Jesus used to twist the Bible, etc. All of those are a poor replacement for the living, resurrected, ascended, enthroned, ruling, present and active Lord Jesus Christ! Accept no substitute for Him and His moment-by-moment presence and Lordship in your life!

  3. This is massive! All the emphasis on Lent and Easter and the church (me too) run past Ascension Sunday looking for Pentecost.

  4. Love Seedbed, and I don’t disagree with the obsevations in today’s Daily Text, but I have some push back in the description as the “most important doctrine of the New Testiment” …

    It’s hard to call somethine “the most important” when it is built upon prerequisites:

    Ascension to Glory, but not without ;
    Resurrection, but not without;
    Crucified, died, and buried, but not without;
    Fully human/fully divine life, but not without;
    Virgin birth, but not without;
    Co-creator, but not without;
    Only begotton Son, co-eternal God along with the Father and Holy Spirit prior to Creation.

    You can’t get to the Glory without the others. You can say the Glory is the most overlooked doctrine, or doesn’t receive enough attention. But you can’t say it the most important doctrine of Christology.

    • This is all correct and good analysis—- I appreciate the engagement Gary. I think maybe the word I’m looking for around the doctrine of the ascension may not be “most important” but lynch pin. Something like that. How does that sit?

  5. Without the ascension, each of the other things would be incomplete. The Bible from Genesis on leads to the ascension. Only after the ascension is the HolySpirit sent to guide and empire us. It is the culmination of God’s plan for the redemption of man.

  6. When I encountered the ascension as its own unique occurrence which benefits us, I saw it as the part of Jesus’ life that most impacts us right here and right now! It gave me the sense that with God there is always more. It is the ongoing nature of God’s never- ending story of redemption/salvation.

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